“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” is a song you might already be hearing in rotation on the radio.
Our teeth are important in saying our sounds for speech correctly, because we use them to block our air, place our tongue, and move our lips around them.
Go ahead and say FAN.
Now say VAN.
You mostly likely placed your top teeth over your bottom lip to say the F and the V sounds.
Your air stream bounced off your top teeth to make the S and the SH sounds.
Let’s hear you say THEM and THINK.
TH sounds require us to stick our tongue out, yep, between our teeth. What about ZIP and MEASURE? Your teeth diverted air for the Z at the beginning of ZIP and the ZH in the middle of MEASURE.
Let’s hear CHOKE.
Now say JOKE.
When we say the CH and the J sounds, our tongue is often stopped by our top teeth and the air pushing against the top teeth to make these two sounds.
When we are FA LA LA-ing our hearts out, we use our teeth to stop our tongue as we lift it up behind, you guessed it, our two front teeth.
Those are just a few examples of why our top teeth are important to saying sounds correctly. Whether you’re 7 or 77 and don’t have your two front teeth, it is going to change how you say sounds like F, V, S, SH, Z, ZH, CH, and J, TH as in THINK, and TH as in THEM.
If your child is able to say these sounds before they lost their two top front and two bottom front teeth, then they already have a sense of where everything needs to be lined up as their adult teeth come through. Their speech will sound different without front teeth, for all of the airflow and placement reasons mentioned above.